7 book covers

Listed below are seven recent attempts to explain why humans are so slow acting on climate change. (Descriptions drawn from the jacket or cover copy provided by the publishers.)

Why Aren’t We Saving the Planet? A Psychologist’s Perspective, by Geoffrey Beattie (Routledge UK, 2010 | 269 pp., $23.95 paperback)

So why aren’t we already saving the planet? This book follows one psychologist’s mission to find some answers to this question. The reader is invited to accompany Geoffrey Beattie (an environmental “unbeliever”) as he uses psychological methods to examine people’s attitudes to global warming. Along the way, we find the author’s own attitudes being challenged, as well as our own. This ground-breaking book reflects new and innovative research being carried out into how to change attitudes to the environment and how to encourage sustainable behavior.

Climate Conundrums: What the Climate Debate Reveals About Us, by William B. Gail (American Meteorological Society, 2014 / 235 pp., $30.00 paperback)

Climate Conundrums is a journey through how we as humans think, individually and collectively, derived from the experience of the climate change debate. It is broadly organized around humanity’s relationship with nature, the challenges facing society, and the path ahead for civilization. While author William B. Gail believes anthropogenic climate change is happening, here he focuses on exploring what the debate says about us.

Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed – and What It Means for Our Future, by Dale Jamieson (Oxford University Press, 2014 / 266 pp., $29.95)

In Reason in a Dark Time, Dale Jamieson explains what climate change is, why we have failed to stop it, and why it still maters what we do. While centered in philosophy, the book also treats the scientific, historical, economic, and political dimensions of climate change. Our failure to prevent or even to respond significantly to climate change, Jamieson argues, reflects the impoverishment of our systems of practical reason, the paralysis of politics, and the limits of our cognitive and affective capacities.

Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, by George Marshall (Bloomsbury Books, 2014 / 260 pp., $27.00)

Don’t Even Think About It is both about climate change and about the qualities that make us human and now we can grow with the greatest challenge we have ever faced. . . . Once we understands what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change, for it is not an impossible problem.

Who Rules the Earth? How Social Rules Shape Our Planet and Our Lives, by Paul Steinberg (Oxford University Press, 2015 / 338 pp., $29.95)

Our climate is warming, our forests are in decline, and every day we hear news of the latest ecological crisis. What will it really take to move society onto a more sustainable path? . . . By unveiling the influence of social rules at all levels of society – from private property to government policy, and from the rules governing our oceans to the dynamics of innovation within corporations and communities – Who Rules the Earth? [makes clear] that sustainability is not just a personal choice, but a political struggle.

Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency, and Promise of Tackling Climate Change, by Nicholas Stern (The MIT Press, 2015 / 406 pp., $27.95)

The science [of climate change] warns of the dangers of neglect; the economics and technology show what we can do and the great benefits that will follow; an examination of the ethics points strongly to a moral imperative for action. Why are we waiting?

What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action, by Per Espen Stoknes (Chelsea Green, 2015 / 290 pp., $24.95 paperback)

It’s the ultimate catch-22. The more facts that pile up about global warming, the greater the resistance to them grows. In What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming, psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes not only masterfully identifies the five main psychological barriers to climate action, but offers new strategies for how to talk about global warming in a way that creates positive solutions, meaningful actions, and support for policy.

Michael Svoboda, Ph.D., is the Yale Climate Connections books editor. He is a professor in the University Writing Program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he has taught since...